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​​ Stephen is an Indie author and musician, who like many of us faced the dreaded common problem of standing out in a crowd, marketing to a masses that seemingly swims in a deepening black hole. 

Unlike most though, Stephen had a thought, one that was outside of the box, unique, and full of promise. He didn't hesitate to put it out there and go for it. The idea quickly caught wildfire, especially upon wind of its success. That idea is the Author's Bus Depot. A simple formatted post that highlights 5 to 6 booksthat  uses the sharing concept and the metrics of the facebook algorithm as an effective marketing tool. 

I reached out to Stephen to see if we would share some of what this idea was al about. Here is that Q & A.  

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  1. Explain the Author Bus Depot to everybody?
    We are a group of authors who have come together to bend the bars that are holding us back from succeeding at meeting our writing goals. We are about trust and teamwork. Indie authors, believe it or not, don’t make much money, and the cost of marketing is crazy, completely unaffordable by most. It’s like a huge wall around the world of success that keeps us small. We are a tiny voice shouting out to a noisy and busy world that doesn’t even realize that we are there. We have worked really hard writing these books, designing the covers and getting them published, but the hardest part of all is letting the world know that we exist. So what do we do? Give up? No way! We have to come together to help each other over that huge marketing wall. When the idea was first dreamed up, I got a few of my author friends together and asked them if they would like to try an experiment with me. This experiment was designed to make our books spread out to new readers by using each other’s fan base. They agreed to try it. We got together and spread our books using a very similar technique to the one we use today in Author’s Bus Depot. The outcome was astonishing! We were used to posting our books and watching them drop down the Facebook timeline, happy to receive a single like. This time, working together, the books were suddenly being seen and shared by our friends, pushing the books out even further, to even more new eyes that had never heard of us. After we finished the first run, I realized how much it was like riding a bus. I told my friends and suddenly everything revolved around riding Buses. Not only are we spewing over that wall around the marketing world, but we are having fun doing it.
  2. What is the best strategy for passengers of the bus, frequent rides, timing the rides, picking the right ride?
    All of the above. Let’s face it, we can run our ads every day at noon because that is a convenient time for us. Some may see it one day and miss it the next. Those that missed it the first day may see it the next. Yet we are only focusing our advertising to one small portion of the readers. I recommend mixing it up. Post an early ad in the morning, and the next day run it in the afternoon. The next day run an evening ad and the next do one at night. Start over again, only you will start your morning ad on a different day of the week than you started it last time. Hit at different times on different days so you are reaching the late night readers as well as the early birds and lunch rush readers. You will hit the weekend readers as well as the week day crowd. Never limit your marketing! Views equal sells! Go for the highest number of views you can! You may say, “My bedtime is at 7pm,” or “I am not a nice person if I have to get up before 10am.” My question to you is this… You have worked very hard for the past six months, year, or maybe even longer to write a quality book. You have designed a great cover or paid a high cost to have a cover designed for you. That doesn’t count the cost of editing and making sure that every sentence of every paragraph is as close to perfect as you can make it. Now your book is published. Marketing is the most important part besides quality writing. Isn’t your hard work worth staying up an extra hour or getting up an hour early every now and then? Let the world know your book is out there. Stretch a little.
  3. Why do you think it’s effective?
    Books will never go out of style. How often have you heard someone say, “Oh, that movie was good, but the book was a lot better?” There is a huge world out there, and that world still loves good books. We just need to reach out to those people who love to read. We do not post our books in the group. Why should we? We are all authors, all with the same goal. The readers are out there in the real world! We needed a way to reach out to them. Author’s Bus Depot is designed to do just that. Our books do not sit on a timeline, unseen by people outside of the group. They spread outside the group like wildfire.
  4. Do you think the Bus concept can be used for more than a promo vehicle, like say a writing or reading group Bus?
    The Bus Depot has the potential to do a lot of great things. I haven’t really thought about a writing or reading group bus. Who knows? Perhaps that could be a destination to visit in the near future. But the Depot was designed for promoting books, and that will always be the main core of what we do.
  5. What do you think the biggest misconception is that people have about the Author Bus Depot and how do you address it?
    This is a brand new and very original idea. There are no other author groups on Facebook that do what we do. Authors are used to posting their book and hoping someone out there will see it and actually find interest in it. When they come into our group, we have postings explaining how it works, but they see BUS RIDE schedules on the line rather than books. They see members commenting on these posts, “I’ll take a ticket,” and “Are there any more seats on this bus?” It freaks many new members out. They know something is going on, but they are not understanding what they are seeing, therefore, many of them join and do not ride. Many have actually stated that they have finally gathered the courage to ride. Once they took the ride and saw how we do things, they loved it! Most continue riding after that! It’s the whole bus ride thing. Two authors have actually asked me, “Are these real buses? Are they going to come pick me up?” Let me make this clear. These are not real buses. No one is going to pull up outside your house and say, “Hey, hop in! We’ve got a schedule to keep!” As I said earlier, the process we use to promote our books is very similar to riding a bus. Marketing is serious business. It can be hard, discouraging and not fun at all. The bus lingo is our spoon full of sugar, and it really helps the medicine go down. Our method is effective and we actually enjoy marketing our books this way.
  6. What is the next evolution for the Author Bus Depot? How quickly will that evolution happen?
    Good question. We have talked about having buses that focus on specific genres: a horror bus, a children’s book bus, a romance bus, etc. But in order to do that you will need several authors of each specific genre, all willing to ride that bus at that same time. Plus, I admit that I am keen to the buses having a wide range of genres on them. It gives the readers out there a selection to choose from. So that idea is a possibility, but it’s still very much in the air. We are always brainstorming new ideas, so we shall see what directions the Depot will take in the future. One thing that will always remain the same, we will always be about reaching out to the numbers and having fun doing it.
  7. How is this method avoiding the moniker “spam”, “click bait”, or “empty promo”?
    It’s true. The Facebook Police are always watching, making sure we stay small behind that marketing wall. If we post our book a dozen times in one day we are likely to be timed out, and the last add will show as spam. But we have found that if we keep our bus rides to only a certain number of riders at a time, we can stay within the Facebook guidelines and not worry about being whipped for advertising our books. If you notice, most of our bus rides will state 5 or 6 passenger limits. This is why we have those limits. You want to know what I think is funny about that? On my author page, Facebook is always asking me to pay them to boost my post. “For only $30 we can put your post out for 41,000 people to see,” blah blah blah. Yet, when we put our own post out about ten to twelve times, we are spamming. What do you call it when Facebook does it for you? Truth is, I have paid to have a few of my ads boosted by Facebook, once paying $100. I received 114 likes and zero sells, hardly worth the money I paid. Our bus rides will get your book out there to be seen and they do not cost a cent! We are all in this together, teamwork!
  8. What has been your results, if you don’t mind sharing them, on your trips?
    It’s hard to say what the exact results of the rides are because we all do other marketing outside the Depot. We have had several authors, myself being one of them, that have seen a definite increase in sells since late July, when the buses started. The books are spreading, gaining literally thousands more views. Views equal sells. When all the fingers are pointing in the same direction, we just have to assume that it was the bus rides that caused the numbers to go up.
  9. Where did the idea come from?
    When I released my first book, Nightly Visits, back in 2014, I was like most indie authors. I was trying to find ways to let the world know there was a new author in town. Problem was, there were many new authors in town, thousands of them! I was posting my book in author groups where they would quickly slide down the line as other authors posted their books above mine. I was getting no sells and no likes on my posts. It finally made me realize I was actually posting my book for other authors. Everyone in the group was there for the same reason, to advertise their book. The only problem was there was no audience to show the books to. It was then I realized I had to think of a way to get the book outside the groups.
If you would like to go to the Depot and see what riding the bus is all about you can join the Author's Bus Depot's Facebook Page here:

Author's Bus Depot Faceboook Page:

Stephen's Books: